SportPesa is the biggest betting company in Kenya and East Africa by extension. The company was founded to tap into the growing demand for betting service providers in Kenya.
SportPesa set up shop in Kenya in 2014, according to The Citizen.
The company grew slowly but surely to even expand to the rest of the world, especially England where it sponsored Everton. Its entry into the international market came after it announced a Kes 1.3 billion sponsorship deal, making it the biggest in the club’s sponsorship history. It also chose Liverpool as its global headquarters, The Citizen reports.
Before this, SportPesa had entered smaller deals with other clubs, such as Arsenal, Southampton, and Hull City in the English Premier League as well as other football clubs in the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A.
In Kenya, SportPesa owners are proud to have sponsored the following local clubs:
- Gor Mahia
- AFC Leopards
- Nakuru All Stars
In Tanzania, SportPesa sponsored Simba, Yanga, and Singida football clubs. In South Africa, it sponsored Cape Town City. All these deals ran into several billions.
The company was fiercely fought by the former Interior CS who said that betting companies had affected the lives of Kenya youth. The government increased taxation on betting firms and tax proceeds. As a result, the company stopped offering services in Kenya and even stopped sponsoring local firms.
So who are the billionaires behind the SportPesa brand? In this article, we list the billionaire owners of SportPesa.
Below is the list of SportPesa shareholders and their stake:
Guerassim Nikolov is SportPesa’s co-founder and equal biggest shareholder.
- Gene Grand (American) -21%
- Guerassim Nikolov (Bulgarian) – 21%
- Asenath Wacera Maina (Kenyan) – 21%: Ms Wacera is the widow of former Nairobi mayor Dickson Wathika.
- Paul Wanderi Ndung’u (Kenyan) -17%: Mr Ndungú became rich after working as a Safaricom distributor. He worked as the SportPesa board chairman. The serial investor was the first Kenyan to receive a forex trading license through Vaipan Forex Bureau, per Standard Media.
- Ronald Kamwiko Karauri (Kenyan) – 6%: Mr Karauri, who is the current MP for Kasarani Constituency, was the SportPesa Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
- Cellini Holdings – 5%
- Valentina Nikolaeva (Bulgarian) – 3%
- Robert Kenn Wanyoike Macharia (Kenyan) – 3%
- Ivan Kalpakchiev (Bulgarian) – 2%
- Francis Waweru Kiarie (Kenyan) – 1%
As seen, SportPesa was initially owned by 10 shareholders under the name Pevans East Africa Ltd. These ownership includes Bulgarians and several Kenyans. Moreover, the company had connections to other companies incorporated in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, a tax haven favoured by sports betting firms.
However, the company has evolved ever since.
Who are the current owners of SportPesa?
According to Wikipedia, SportPesa in Kenya is operated by Milestone Games Limited, a Kenyan-owned company. In Tanzania, the sports betting firm and online casino is operated by SportPesa Limited, a subsidiary of SportPesa Global Holdings Ltd., a company registered in the UK. SportPesa Pty operates the brand in South Africa. In the Isle of Man and Ireland, SportPesa is operated by a group of companies owned by SportPesa Holdings Limited, a company registered in the Isle of Man. In the UK, the SportPesa brand is operated in conjunction with TGP Europe Limited.
In 2016, SportPesa won the Best African Sponsorship Award at the Discovery Sports Industry Awards (DSIA). In 2017, was recognized as a Superbrand and was placed 13th in the ranking of the best companies in Kenya.